Archive for2010-10 to 2011-04 – In Fl for Fun and Warm Winter

Home again.. Home again

Got home mid afternoon to a real mess. A mouse (or mice) got into our pantry. We tossed out most everything (except the canned goods). All the cans and shelves had to be washed. We found their entrance through the drier vent (there was a hole in the vent and easy entrance from outside.) We hope we can fix it so it doesn’t happen again. At least the pantry is sparkling clean.

Willow had a rough trip back, but she was actually very easy to travel with. She slept all the way. Didn’t eat or drink and her other functions seem to have shut down. We know we’ll lose her soon, but it’s best that it happen naturally. She’s very comfortable. Yesterday afternoon, during a major downpour and heavy traffic, she had a seizure. I held and petted her until she came out of it, but it was a tense time.

Except for the mouse damage in the cabinet, the place was in great shape. Even the lawn doesn’t look too bad.

None of the trees are leafed out yet and it’s pretty cool, but then again I’m used to 80-90 degree temperatures. I’ll adjust.

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Heading Back Home

I already miss Florida and I’m not even home yet.

We started out this morning at about 9:00. When we were about a block from our condo, I realized I didn’t know where the cellphone was. We turned around (much to the dismay of John) and went back. As it turned out it was in the car, buried in my computer bag, but that set us behind about 15 minutes.

Our tiny dog, Willow, has stopped eating and drinking. We have said all along that we know the end of her life is near, but we hope to get her back to Michigan. I don’t know if she’ll make it. She’s comfortable, but so weak that she can’t stand. I tried putting ice chips in her mouth, but they just fall out. She’s really out of it and doesn’t seem to know how to eat or drink at this point. When we stop the next time, we’re going to try using a syringe to put water in her mouth.

Traffic hasn’t been bad, but Willow’s situation and my losing the cellphone haven’t put John in a very good mood.

Tonight’s stay will be in Kennesaw, GA. We’ll go to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s or Cracker Barrel. The decision will be John’s.

Tomorrow night we’ll be in Miamisburg, Ohio, near Dayton. I like Marion’s Pizza when we are in Miamisburg. I’ve lusted after that pizza since last year. They make it with a very thin crust with lots of cheese and pepperoni It’s cut it into small square pieces. Hopefully it’s as good as I remember.

We should get home in the early afternoon Wednesday.

Saturday we have a meeting of the Original Dulcimer Players Club in Holland, MI. It’s nearly 140 miles to the church where the meeting will be held. That means that we have to leave by 7:15 and it’ll be an expensive trip (approx. $40) at current gas prices.

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Easter Sunday

Today was our last full day of the “season.” We leave for Michigan tomorrow a.m.

We went to church, cleaned and packed, enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Wayne and Linda Conklin’s.

Our plan was to finish everything early and squeeze in some pool time but it rained hard right after we got back from dinner and it didn’t let up for a while. So much for our pool plans. Oh, well….

We’re nearly ready to go. We’ll get up early and try to be out of here by 8:30.

I’m sorry we didn’t get to say good-bye to many of the special folks who made our winter in Florida enjoyable. (Especially We’ll have to email them and

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Not up to par

Last night about 2:00 a.m. I found myself totally awake and feeling rotten with a very queasy stomach. Finally about 5:00 I got up and read until John got up at 7:00.

In addition to being tired all day, my stomach ache never went away. I’ve felt really yucky.

I had great plans for the day. I wanted to spend a good share of it at the pool saying good-bye to friends. But instead I felt it was an accomplishment to stay upright. Somehow I managed to get my packing and laundry done, but basically I vegged and complained that I wasn’t feeling well.

I have a theory that my body is rebelling because it’s being dragged unwillingly back to Michigan.

I think even John wishes we had set our departure for early May instead of April. Next year we may do things differently.

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Winding Down

Tonight we went to our last “Rockin’ Rendezvous” of this season. It started out slowly. The seats were all vacant and lonely.

Gradually folks arrived. It wasn’t the rowdy bunch we used to enjoy, but John and Brenda came to say good-bye and we also saw other good friends so in the end it was an enjoyable evening.

Brenda and John are the nicest folks imaginable. Both are fun and enthusiastic about life. Brenda’s cute and bubbly. John’s charming and every inch a gentleman.

They are people anyone would be honored to call good friends.

But as my John pointed out, there are no people in our circle who aren’t nice. Everyone is exceptional. I don’t know how we got so lucky.

As an example, we also saw our friends Sue, Linda, Bert and Cheryle, Richard, Bob, Shirley, Janice, and others. What a great bunch!

October is a long way off, but hopefully they’ll all be back with us in the fall.

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Another bad day (Saturday)

For some reason this post was corrupted so I had to re-enter it. It was actually posted on Saturday, the 16th.


Today (Saturday) we sort of “divided” the chores. I stayed home to start packing for our return home (on April 25th) and John went to play pickleball.

When he got back, he headed to town to get some groceries. I continued to work around the condo. (I have moved most stuff to the “staging area” in the spare bedroom). My plan is to have everything done so we can just relax next week and finish packing with only a couple hour’s work.

He was gone a couple of hours. Before he got back, I realized it was hot in the condo!! Usually we keep the A/C at about 75-76 and that’s where I thought it was, but the temperature was rising. At first I just though I was working up a sweat, but I checked the temperature. It wasn’t just me! It was about 82. I tried lowering the setting but nothing changed.

I listened to the outside compressor and realized it was making a strange sound. Immediately I called the repair service. (We have a contract which covers seven days a week air conditioning, heat, refrigerator and range emergency service.)

While waiting for the repair guy, I turned on all four of our ceiling fans and opened the door, but it was about 85 outside so it only got hotter.

A couple of weeks ago we’d had a service tech make sure our A/C unit was purring so we wouldn’t have to worry about it this summer. We also had a humidistat installed. We thought we’d made sure that everything was in good working order.

When the contracted repair fellow came he said the capacitor which had been replaced by the service tech had been “recalled.” It was defective. He had to replace it again. Thank heavens it failed before we headed back north. (I’m calling the service tech’s business to complain that they should have notified us about the recall.)

Waiting for the repair guy had taken a couple of hours. The whole day was shot. It was way too hot to do any more work, and too late to go to the pool.

John worked on the front door and got it so the new “sweep” at the bottom works the way it should.

The parts for the garage door came today so I’m sure he’ll get that fixed within a few days.

Bad luck usually comes in “threes” but we’ve had so many problems the past few days, that I’ve lost count. I’m sure we’re on the second or third series of three.

(Or maybe this was actually good luck because we were still here when the a/c failed.)

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An unbelievably bad morning

A NIGHTMARE type morning.

Last night we discovered the garage door wouldn’t work, and this morning the repair guy quoted us $350 for a new one.

Our old, tiny dog, Willow, wasn’t doing well at all. She can no longer stand up.

Then John, who wanted to go play pickleball, discovered that the car door had been left ajar so the battery was dead. Thank heavens he checked before he left the condo because I had an appointment to have my hair cut and had planned to use it.

While all this was going on, the painters arrived and started painting the front door.

It was one thing after another. Things got more and more stressful. I was hurrying to get ready, John wanted to leave. Willow was bad. The painters were working at the front door.

But eventually it all smoothed out.

John used the truck to jump the car’s battery.

I got to the beauty shop on time.

John went on-line and found a replacement part for $50 instead of paying $350.

He got to go play pickleball.

Willow is resting.

And painters will finish tomorrow – we hope. The windows are now covered with opaque plastic so it looks like there’s heavy fog outside. The front door is ajar to let it dry, but the sidewalks and drive have been power-washed.

We were able to go to the pool about 1:00 and stayed until 3:15. That definitely helped relax us.

Tonight was another Rockin’ Rendezvous. We danced a little and said good-bye to some friends who were leaving. We still have another week, but time’s flying.

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I have figured it out…

The reason time passes faster as we get closer to our departure date is “momentum.” It’s the phenomena that occurs when an object rolls down an incline. It picks up speed.

Our days are slanted toward April 25. Each day moves along at a faster clip. At two weeks from departure we’re really moving along, but next week time will blur past even faster.

No time to waste.

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Imagine the most relaxing place of your dreams

Today was a perfect day! We went shopping this morning and this afternoon headed to the pool. The temperatures were high but the Conklins had staked out a couple of prime lounge chairs for us in the shade.

The temperature of the water was perfect! You floated in a wonderful luxurious soft cloud of warmth and comfort. Everyone commented that it felt so good!

Last Sunday our minister asked us to meditate. He wanted us to close our eyes and think of a place where everything was perfect. I thought of the South Club pool on a day like today where your body feels caressed with the warm water.

It wasn’t overly crowded, the music was nice the people friendly, the air temperature in the high 80’s. (Humidity creeping up.)

John, who is reluctant to acknowledge that this is preferable to being in Michigan, said he’d describe this place as Paradise. He commented that, “Anything that interests you is available to you. You can relax or be busy. You can sing, or play cards, or exercise, or get involved in any of the 200 clubs. What more could we ask for?”

And to think we’re leaving it in two weeks for cool weather and solitude in Michigan.

Why do I say “solitude”? Because in Michigan we live in an area that is remote and distant enough from friends that I often go several weeks and don’t leave the house. John goes to George’s (his best friend’s house), but we really don’t have a social life there.

In Florida, we enjoy multiple daily activities with friends. It’s just the way it is.

Over next few days we’ll have a party tomorrow night with our Country Dance Class (the 9th), a dance on Sunday with the Oldies but Goodies Club (the 10th), a birthday party/dinner Monday at Anna Maria Oyster Bay (the 11th), a ballroom dance club dance Tuesday (the 12th), country couples dance lesson and a Nantucket V Association hor dourves party Wednesday evening (the 13th), Rockin Rendezvous Thursday the 14th, and that’s just the next five days!

Thank heavens for our Michigan music which helps us interact with others. Most of the month of July we’ll be able to be with music friends at the Evart festival, and we have once-a-month concerts at Haithco Park in Saginaw.

It would be nice to simplify our lives, but I don’t think John’s ready to sell our place in Michigan and be full-time in Florida. But eventually I see that happening… not yet…. someday!

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Less than three weeks!!!

Three weeks from yesterday we’ll pull into our Michigan home. (We leave on the 25th.) Can’t say I want to go, but I know that we have to get back. I have an important dulcimer festival planning meeting the Saturday after we return and before long, Spring with bring our lawn to life. There’s always a lot for John to do to keep up with the yard. We don’t want it to get too far ahead of us.

Tuesday was a rainy day. We took advantage of the time we couldn’t get out and took care of stuff inside (Believe it or not, I ironed some sheets, some of John’s shirts and other items! I-R-O-N is one of those four letter words which I avoid but it was hard to stall any longer.)

Tuesday night we attended a Michigan Club gourmet dinner and annual meeting, Wednesday (yesterday) was a pickle ball club luncheon at Ybor Grill. Even though the weather had improved we didn’t get to the pool. Instead after our luncheon in Ruskin, we went shopping and I was successful finding another “church dress.” (I’ve only had a couple down here that were conservative enough for church. This new one is perfect: a black two layer voile sundress style with a voile jacket with a ruffle on the bottom of both the jacket and the dress.) I also found a cute bright cotton trapeze style sundress with beads and jewels embroidered around a Cleopatra-style neckline. I got both at re-sale shops but both were NEW with tags!! Don’t tell anyone but I spent a total of $10 for both dresses!! I love a bargain. Yesterday afternoon we were at our second-to-the-last country dance class.

Today (Thursday) was warm and lovely. We had a Nantucket V condo owners meeting at 11:00 a.m. We were at the pool before the meeting and again afterward. We came back home about 3:30 and at 5:00 went to Rockin Rendezvous. The exodus of Snowbirds was apparent. The Palm Cafe was nearly empty until about 5:30. It finally fired up and we did a little dancing and saw a few friends but it’s obvious that the flow of folks from Florida northward is already well underway.

Time is short. We need to take advantage of every day before we join the herd heading back to their summer residences.

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Violent Weather

Yesterday we received about 4″ of rain. At the height of the storm, the wind was scary, the skies black, and the downpour volume over-whelming. We ended up with water in our lanai, but other than that, everything stayed snug. Our power had stayed on through it all, we never lost our cable, and my internet was only interrupted for a second or two.

Late in the afternoon, there was a break so John, who was antsy from being cooped up, took the car and went into town.

Stop lights were out and there were areas where the water on the road was a problem but he accomplished a few chores.

We had planned to go to Rockin’ Rendezvous, when he got back, but when the rain started up again, we changed our minds and stayed in.

Today the golf course is littered with debris from the trees, but the lanai is drying and the small pond which had formed beside the condo yesterday has dried up.

Nearby areas weren’t as fortunate. Lots of homes were damaged north of us and an air show was hit with several planes flipped over by the wind. Even a semi on the highway was over-turned by the gusts.

We may get to the pool late this afternoon, but I’m sure the temperature of the water will have dropped considerably with the addition of the cold rainwater and it’s only going to be in the mid-70s.

This weekend promises to be glorious. We have tickets for a dance tomorrow night.

I want to stretch out the time we have left and make the most of every day. It’s tough when we’re stuck inside. I should have used the time to start packing, but that’s really a signal of the end of the season and I’m in denial.

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New Friends

This year we have met lots of “new friends.” Yes, we still adore Jean & Mel, Darlene & Gary, Sharon & Alan, Robbin & Terry, Mary & Ron, Rachael & Jerry, Brenda & John and all of the super nice folks we’ve met over the years including those Brenda & John introduced us to (mostly from Maine but also a fun Michigan couple). And then there are all of our Nantucket V friends (that’s our home owners’ association), and of course our wonderful long-time friends the Conklins. There are also “pool friends,” John’s new “pickleball buddies” and the “Rockin’ Rendezvous crowd.” They all make those activities fun.

But this year we got acquainted with Richard & Shelly, Carolyn & Stephen, Sharon & Ed, Lilly & Hank and all the fun folks we know from our country dance classes (including the instructors Bill and Donna). And recently we’ve gotten to know Linda & Ron, who are shown in the photo. They all make our stay here in Florida totally enjoyable. These new friends are super additions to our “circle.” This is just a sampling of the folks who are important to us down here.

I didn’t touch on those who are in the ballroom dance club nor our pool friends, nor our previous neighbors from the Fairfield association, and I could go on and on.

My plan for this season was to have a house party but the list of folks we’d need to invite keeps growing. I can’t imagine having a party that didn’t include them all. Our place wouldn’t accommodate the crowd.

It’s not that we are popular. It’s just that the people we have met are so inclusive. They are totally approachable and caring. They make it easy to warm up to them. They invite and support you. They are what good folks should be but no where else have I found them.

One time I heard the definition of a good friend as someone who would loan you $10 in a pinch or come after you if you had car trouble. I actually feel that there are dozens who fit that description. Of course we don’t plan to test them, but they’d be there for us, and we’d do the same for them.

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Weather Woes

We’ve had lovely weather for the past month but today Mother Nature dropped over 2″ of rain on our area. Looking beyond today, it appears we’ll be back to our glorious sunshine and warm weather in a day or two.

We had to find a way to entertain Suzie and C.T., John’s sister and her guy. They had arrived Saturday. When they got here it was gorgeous and also yesterday so we got in a full day of pool time. Last night we all went to a fun dance. Today, with the rain, our pool plans were cancelled. Instead, we went shopping, to the North Club where we listened to some live music, and then to Anna Maria Oyster Bar for an early dinner.

Back at the condo, the rain really came down. We may need an ark because more is expected.

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Fun Stuff

We have had a ton of fun over the past week or so: A dance, an association cook-out, a South Club pool party, a tour of a friend’s lovely decorated new home, dinner with friends, lots of pool time, our country dance lesson, and tomorrow we’re going to Busch Gardens. (Charo will be there and she does a great show.) The whole five and a half months we’ve been down here have been crammed with enjoyable events but it’s seem that now we’re in over-drive.

We have only one more month left here in Florida. It’s hard to cram in all the good time stuff on our agenda between now and our departure.

Lots of good memories will carry us through until October when we return.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

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Lip Sync Videos on YouTube

You can enjoy all of the videos from the March 8th Lip Sync Show benefiting LifePath Hospice. (Click on the title of the music, and you’ll be taken to the You Tube video.)

1. I Wanna Talk About Me – Larry and Darlene Meadows
2. Unwritten – Robin
3. Big, Blonde and Beautiful – Carol Geary
4. Soul Man – Linda and Jane
5. Golf is a Naughty Game – Sue Sussman
6. Splish Splash – Honey and Shawn
7. Paper Gangsta – Bobbi Burnette
8. Ring of Fire and Jackson – Ron and Ron and Ellen
9. All of You – Gerry Dearden and Doc
10. These Boots are Made for Walking – Brenda Hartman
11. I’ve Got you Babe – Janice and Pat
12. Sue Me – Linda and Tom
13. I Will Survive – Elaine Kijek
14. Thriller (dance routine) – Larry and Darlene Meadows
15. Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh – Tom Gasnon
16. Whatever Lola Wants – Rachel and Billy Bob
17. Forever Your Girl – Bobbi Burnette
18. Wedding Bell Blues – Bill and Donna Markman
19. Country Boy – Ted Metcalfe
20. Billy Jean – Jane Boccieri
21 My Husband is Playing A Round – Sue Sussman
22. Hey, Big Spender – Honey, Shawn and Norman
23. Alone – Brenda Wiseman
24. Too Much Too Little Too Late – Gerry Dearden and Doc
25. Mississippi Squirrel Revival – Ann Parisen
26. Middle Aged Women – Sue Sussman (by Lisa Koch ©2005 Mamajune Music (BMI))
27. YMCA – Jane, Shirley, Linda, Linda and Bobbi

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Lip Sync Show March 8, 2011

John and I video’d the Kings Point Lip Sync Show last week. It was fun and benefited Life Path Hospice where my mom spent her last days. The videos turned out ok. (My view was a little “sideways” so I didn’t block anyone’s view, but it seemed to work.) After doing the videos last year for this same event, I purchased a better video camera. A week or so ago I realized I needed some “practice” to be sure I knew how to use it. And this was the first time I’d tried up-loading from that camera to youtube. I found myself stuck without the tools I needed.

I ended up with about 30 clips of the various acts. My plan is to get them up on youtube as soon as possible.

What happened was the camera wasn’t compatible with my existing editing program so I had to shop around for a simple (inexpensive) way to edit the videos. Finally I made a commitment to iCoolSoft-HD (an editing and conversion program). It isn’t perfect but was fairly cheap and allows me to convert to any format and clip the length of the video.

Preparing each video takes several steps. (Trim the raw footage with iCoolSoft-HD, add titles with WindowsMovieMaker.) Last night I up-loaded the first three acts and hopefully within the next three or four days I can complete the rest of them. (It takes at least a half hour per act to take the raw clip and get it in place on youtube and there were 28 acts.)

If you’d like to see the first ones I’ve completed, you can go to and use the search words “Kings Point Lip Sync, Sun City Center, 2011.” Eventually I’ll put links to all of the clips here.

Today’s St. Paddy’s Day so tonight I might not get much done.

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Cool Down

Yesterday and today it’s been chilly (60’s with overnight lows into the low 40’s).

It’s Friday again and another week has flown by. We enjoyed pool-time daily during the first part of last week even though it was windy. Tuesday we filmed the lip sync benefit show. It went well.

Wednesday we went to our couples dance class, Thursday we spent the day at Busch Gardens enjoying the Osmond Brothers and a great dance show. Thursday evening was a typical Rockin’ Rendezvous.

About noon today (Friday) we went to a Kings Point festival on the grounds of the North Club. After doing a little shopping, this afternoon we came home and dressed for a country dance night at the club. Tomorrow it might warm up to 70 and then next week even warmer. By next weekend, it’ll be into the 80’s.

We only have 44 more days before we head home. I hate to think of leaving. Even John is enjoying himself more than he dreamed. He’s playing pickle ball every day, we’re dancing a lot, and having lots of fun!

By comparison, back in Michigan, life will be pretty dull. The 153 days we’ll be in Michigan will be divided between our place on the lake in rural Saginaw County, our place in the U.P and the Evart dulcimer festival. By the time you subtract those times we’ll be out of town, we’ll probably spend a total of approximately 20 weeks at our house. Twenty weeks when I’ll be anxious to get back to Florida.

Even when it’s cool down here, it’s lovely. Today was a good example of that.

Our remaining time here will be crowded with about a dozen dances/parties, a couple dinners, dance lessons, karaoke night, pool parties, pool time, a four or five day visit from John’s sister and her boyfriend, and other enjoyable events to fill our days to capacity. Wish we could slow down time!

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Birthday Shopping

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a flurry of on-line “shopping.” The last time was documented in my Sharon’s Blog Post of May 19th, 2010.

Today I celebrated my 69th birthday. John and I don’t generally exchange gifts, but during the period of our birthdays, we can shop and get what we want without guilty feelings. (I don’t have guilt feelings anyway.) This week I shopped using my 69th birthday as an excuse.

I got a cute, quality, Chico’s top which came today. I also bought a pair of tan city shorts (I already have identical white ones and love them), a lovely silk very elegant strapless top, and a bargain priced pair of tops (one of which should I be able to wear over a strapless bathing suit for a totally new look). I got the two of them for about $14 with shipping. John got me a pair of lovely earrings. (Actually I got them, but they came from him because I said, “I’ll order these for my birthday and they’ll be from you, ok?”)

I love clothes. I feel best when I get them cheaply. The Chico’s top which came today cost me less than I saw similar “used” items in a resale shop. It’s already a favorite of mine and I haven’t even worn it worn it yet.

Only problem, I need a bigger closet!

For John’s birthday, which was Tuesday, we went to a lunch buffet which he selected. Today we went to Circles at Apollo Beach at about 3:00 for my birthday. Both meals were super. At this rate, it’s good that each of our birthdays only come once a year. I would definitely “chubby-up” and none of those clothes I just bought would fit me.

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I spend a lot of time at the pool and consequently have several (many) bathing suits. As you’d expect, some are “favorites” and soon they look dull and a tad worn. I stumbled on a simple way to up-date a suit.

I wear a lot of black and have several suits which are solid black. Most of my suits can be worn strapless since I prefer an un-lined tan. A couple of them I’ve had for three or more years and they’re a bit shabby, or at least I don’t feel they have the same sizzle they once had.

cute topIn January I bought an evening wear top which I thought was really cute. I got it on eBay, but when it came, I knew I’d never wear it because it was just a bit too over-the-top for me. There was a turquoise under-layer but the black, which had large flowers woven in, was totally see-through. It went into a drawer and I figured I’d never wear it. It had only cost me $12.99 but I figured it was wasted money.

Sunday I creatively put the cute (never worn) top over a plain black strapless bathing suit and voilà I had an updated suit! I tried it with the ruffle over one shoulder and it was ok, but found that I could wear it as a strapless with the ruffle all around the whole top. It isn’t noticeable that it’s supposed to be one-shouldered (the fabric is very stretchy and the arm opening disappears making it a cute strapless top). I liked it better that way. Maybe I’ll eventually remove the bow which ties in the front because when it gets wet, it just hangs, but I’ve left it for now. And yes, I wore it in the pool and it looks great even wet.

I knew it had been a success when, after I’d worn it to pool, a friend’s husband commented Sunday night that he’d liked my “new” swim suit. He described it to his wife as cute and ruffly.

So now I’m on the prowl for tops that I can wear over my bathing suits. This one (above) is perfect I’m wearing it again today over a different black strapless suit.

I found several others on eBay (below). I can see there are lots to choose from.

Some are a bit too expensive. The stripped one, as an example would come to $36 with shipping.) But I think, if I’m patient, I can find some in the $5-15 dollar range and I’ll have a whole new bathing suit look. To prove my point, the last one (below) is $10 including shipping.

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The weather in Florida has been flawless.

We had a busy time last week.

Thursday night we performed for the Manchester I pizza party. Our performance with the Conklins as the foursome Kings Strings, was well accepted. We felt good about it.

Friday the South Club had a party to celebrate the reopening of the pool (which had been closed for a month to level the tiles which surround the pool.) It was a beautiful day, a huge crowd, and the entertainment (Elvis) made the day perfect. ….. Naw, I take it back, it was our friends that made it perfect.

Saturday I was chairman of the Michigan Club pizza party. It went off without a hitch. We had an excellent vocalist (Salvina) as entertainment. Lots of pizza, salad, and beer! We had great help at the party. Couldn’t have done it without our friends who stepped up to assist us.

Sunday we had an invitation to Steve and Caroline’s Oscar party. It was great time. We stayed to the end. Fun people and the food… Wow! I really need to watch what I eat.

Today, Tuesday, is John’s birthday. We don’t know what we’ll do but we’ll celebrate.

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Beautiful Weather

The past couple of days I’ve spent most of my time outside. The weather has been perfect, mid to high 70’s, and sunny.

Today the South Club Pool was packed. After noon folks had to wait for a lounge chair, but we were in good shape, because I’d arrived at 10:00 so we had seats before the crowd arrived. Saw lots of friends.

We need to be especially careful avoiding a sunburn because Monday we go to our dermatologist. Don’t want him to scold us.

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Florida, MY Florida!

FloridaI’m Florida’s newest resident. Yup, today I got my Florida driver’s license and I’m officially a resident. I can vote. I can brag. I can claim Florida as “mine.”

I know I’ll spend more and more time each year in the Sunshine State. I figured switching now is a good idea. Eventually it will help with a few financial benefits like a possible homestead exemption and no state income tax.

Florida, with its wonderful views, its lovely coastline, and its glorious weather.

I will always think of Michigan as the state where my “roots” are but the longer I live, the more time I’ll be in the south.

I love Florida. It’s now “my home”!!

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lying to myself

The forecast in central Florida is for high 70’s temps next week.

You’d think I’d be celebrating, and I am…. sorta.

But back, many months ago, I made a public vow to lose about 15 pounds and, guess what? It hasn’t happened. The show-down occurs when I must again don a bathing suit.

I’m no longer slim and shapely. I’m pudgy and aging. My birthday next month will celebrate 69 years! That’s awfully close to 70, which I always considered really “old.”

I promised myself that, when I got to Florida, I’d walk a lot and watch my diet. I didn’t take into consideration that a couple times a week we’d dine out and take in multiple potluck dinners. I am much more active than in Michigan, but the Florida winter cool weather restricted our time outside since early December. The pool closure this past month also discouraged our promised routine. But those are only “excuses.” I’m at least 15 pounds over where I want to be. I weigh nearly 130 (ok, I’ve honestly been at least 130 for many months) which on my 5’2″ frame is about 15 to 20 pounds more than I want. I’m nearly 70. I’m not a sex symbol to anyone except my husband. skinny

Once I was a size 2. (Yup, that’s me at about 90 pounds in my size 2 wedding dress.) Now I’m a comfortable size 8 (or sometimes even a 10.) Even my shoe size increased from 6 1/2 to 7 and I have a pair or two of 7 1/2’s.

Life is truly wonderful, but I do lie a lot when I’m making promises to myself, especially when they have anything to do with my weight.

I wonder how long it would take me to lose 15 pounds so I would feel good about myself? The weather is going to be grand and now I have “incentive” to stick with my vow. Let’s see what happens.

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Stuck inside

It’s raining and cool today.

Yesterday when we went to our couples country dance lesson we spotted an announcement which said that the pool re-opens Friday (tomorrow). Unfortunately it’ll be too cool to take advantage, but next week it’s supposed to warm-up so the re-opening of the pool is definitely good news.

And next Friday, the 18th, there’s a party planned to celebrate the renovation of this lovely feature.

Over the next week we’ll be mucho busy: tonight is Rockin’ Rendezvous, tomorrow night our dance class will “practice” in the Palm Court Cafe, the 13th we have tickets for the Baby Boomers’ Valentine dance, Monday is Valentine’s Day, and Tuesday our annual Kings Point Ball Room Dance Club (fancy) dinner dance.

Next Wednesday, the 16th, the skies are supposed to be clear and the temperature will be near 80! To me that sounds like POOL TIME!!!

The pool has been closed since January 19th. (The closing was so the “paving tiles” around the pool could be re-leveled.) The pool is where we see a lot of our friends. We’ve missed that connection. Also can’t wait to “soak up” the sun and get exercise walking to the pool. I just feel better when I spend more time outside.

Up north it’s been bitter cold. Right now (at 10:30 a.m.) it’s 3 and feels like a -8. It’s only supposed to warm up to about 16. That’s dern cold. So I’m not complaining about mid 60’s and some much-needed rain as long as it moves out soon.

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Super Sunday

Yesterday we went to our friends, John B. and Brenda’s condo for a Super Bowl party. It was fun; especially the “football pool.” My John won one of the four possible pool prizes. Watching the scores makes it exciting, and I’m not normally a football fan.

The party food spread was fabulous (chile, chicken wings, lots of munchies and good stuff). Everything was excellent! I went home thinking that I really have to start watching my waistline which is expanding. The crowd divided into two groups: those watching the game (and eating), and those playing marbles. John and I hung out near the food and close to the TV.

Pauline celebrated her birthday so put a candle in John S.’s carrot cake and we all sang to her.

This was the third year we’ve attended the party. We’ve always had a good time, but maybe because we know the people better, it was even more relaxed and fun. There’s a comfortable attitude that mades it a truly enjoyable evening.

Brenda does a great job organizing. And her place is lovely and homey. I could learn from her example. And everyone who shows up is incredibly nice.

Today we’re eating sensibly. It’s 5:00 p.m. and I’ve only had two pieces of toast and a grapefruit. Tonight we’ll enjoy salmon, sweet potatoes and salad. Unfortunately it won’t undo last night, but it’s a start.

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Debbie Reynolds

Debbie 2011
Debbie Reynolds put on a very nice show Friday, February 4, 2011. She’s nearly 79. Not a youngster, but “looking good.”

Debbie was popular when I was in high school. You can see a photo of “early Debbie” here:
Debbie in the late 50's

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Doing the Hustle

We’ve been hurrying around all week.

We entertained Michigan company, attended our association’s annual meeting, went to a pizza lunch in Apollo Beach with our neighbors, enjoyed our country couples dance lesson on Wednesday, and had fun at Rockin’ Rendezvous last night.

Today we enjoyed Debbie Reynolds at Busch Gardens and toured the Yuengling Brewery (the nation’s oldest). I’m hoping I can create a collage of photos of Debbie Reynolds’ performance like I did for Charo’s pics. Debbie was funny and it was fun going down memory lane with her leading the way.

Tomorrow is “Super Bowl Sunday” so we’ll be heading to Brenda and John’s for their annual gathering. They have the nicest friends. Each one is special. Maybe it’s just that all folks from Maine are nice.

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Busy Life but LOVE it!

Last week we enjoyed a karaoke evening (we don’t sing but it’s fun to watch), I attended my “writers’ group,” we had fun at our country couples dance lesson, went to Ruskin for spaghetti, socialized at Rockin’ Rendezvous, attended the Cirque De Monde show, joined friends at a memorial to honor Rose Wark (a good friend who died in October), danced and feasted at the Sno-Ball (a fancy formal party), shopped a couple of times including at a huge flea market (the Big Top), practiced our music with Wayne and Linda Conklin (the other half of our little performance group we now call Kings Strings), and planned for an equally busy week this week!!!

It’s no wonder that the condo hardly ever gets cleaned.

This week we will probably have company from Michigan (Cindy and Mike Baker). They are looking for a rental condo unit for January, February and March, 2012. They were north of Nashville last night when they called. That’s at least a 13-hour drive. I invited them to stay with us if they want. If they do, it’ll be tonight but I can’t imagine how they can make it here unless they arrive in the wee hours. Tomorrow at 3:00 they check into their rental condo unit in Orlando northwest of us. I have a feeling they’ll come tomorrow about 10:30 a.m. We’ll take them on a tour until they have to leave (about 1:00). It won’t give them much time, but they’re anxious to see the place.

I hope, if they call and say they want to stay tonight, I can find the bed under all our music stuff which has taken over the bedroom. (Actually I’m stretching the truth for effect. I could get the bedroom ready with 30 minutes of polishing.)

We have a condo association annual meeting at 8:30 tomorrow, a pizza party with the same group on Wednesday, our couples country dance lesson Wednesday afternoon, Thursday we have another practice scheduled with the Conklins and Rockin’ Rendezvous is that evening at the clubhouse. On Friday, we’ll go to Busch Gardens and see Debbie Reynolds. Saturday we’ll hit the “Nearly New” re-sale for bargains and Sunday we’re invited to Brenda and John’s for a Super Bowl party.

Love our life here! It’s almost good that the pool is closed until the 17th (while the paving stones which make up the pool deck are torn up and leveled). We just don’t have time to relax in the sun. We”re too busy having fun.

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Kitchen Renovation

Here are the long-promised before and after kitchen renovation pictures.

October 2008

The honey oak cabinets (above) were in the condo when we bought the place in 2008. You’ll notice the oak cabinets are short, and there’s an old fan over the range with a counter microwave. There’s wallpaper behind the cabinets and on the wall behind the “buffet.”

We had Mauro’s Cabinets re-do everything. He finished Saturday. The top cabinets were totally reconstructed. The bottom cabinets were “resurfaced.” Eventually we’ll also put granite on the countertop and a nice back-splash. The walls in the great room and kitchen are all sand color (a light brown). The wall behind the “buffet” is a milk chocolate color.

There’s also a new stainless French-door refrigerator, microwave, buffet, and hanging pendant lights over the bar area. (The range and dishwasher will eventually have stainless installed, but that will wait.)

January 2011

January 2011

January 2011

This is the “buffet” that prompted the whole renovation. We loved the dark storage piece we bought, and it matched nicely with the lights we hung about the same time, but the cabinets didn’t work with it. Now they do!!

January 2011

The last photo is the way folks see the kitchen as they enter our condo.

We still have more to do: counter tops, back splash, new bar stools, and eventually the flooring. It’s coming together!

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Lookin’ Good

The kitchen isn’t complete, but hopefully Mauro will finish up this morning. (We’re waiting for him now.)

He needs to finish the spice rack (a skinny pull-out to hold our array of spices). He’ll add a door to the corner cabinet, put the doors on a narrow tip-down door under the sink for a scouring pad, etc., adjust some too tight shelves and insert in a missing shelf. Then the hardware (handles) need to be added (22 in all).

John is going to add shelves over the microwave and refrigerator (since Mauro hadn’t included the price of those in his original bid and would have added about $200 to the amount he charged us.) John is also finishing up the painting of the kitchen wall toward the guest bathroom. That one wall will be a milk chocolate color and will accent the lighter sand colored walls in the rest of the kitchen/dining and great room.

We still need to get the stuff put back in all the cupboards. Right now most of the dishes and glassware have been put in them but the top two shelves in all of the cabinets are totally empty. The added shelves really gave us a lot of additional storage area which I hope will take a lot of time to fill. And when John gets the old cabinets installed in the office, we’ll have even more places to stow our stuff.

I don’t want to accumulate things we don’t use, but we, or more accurately I, want to do more entertaining down here. Our social life in Michigan in is almost non-existent. When we entertain in Michigan, it’s at festivals and very casual. I’d like to bring some of our stuff down here so we can host our Florida friends more easily. We have very few serving pieces.

When the kitchen is complete and the wall painted, I’ll post before and after pictures. We feel it’s really a nice improvement; a totally different look. Yes, there’s more to be done in other areas of the condo, but little by little we’ll get the place the way we want it. Next year flooring and maybe counter tops.

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End of January 2011

What a great month it’s been. The weather greatly improved so we were able to spend a couple days sunning ourselves at the pool.

We’ve been to a couple of great dances, and tonight a super Rockin’ Rendezvous.

We love our Kings Point friends. Tonight again I sat beside Phyllis. She’s the 80+ mother of Brenda. What a charming, lovely lady! I would love to talk one-on-one with her and get to know her even better. Since it’s difficult to seriously converse at our evening gatherings I’ve invited her to stay with us for at least two nights in 2012. I’ll have her captive. She’s the mother I wish I had. Next year we’ll get to enjoy some quality time. Can’t wait!

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My philosophy:

I just read this and it’s how I want to live life:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, glass of wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

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Fun Evening

We went to the Baby Boomers’ annual meeting and ice cream social. It was primarily a business meeting, but the ice cream was great!

After we left the meeting, we headed to the Oldies But Goodies monthly dance across town.

We sat at a fun table of nice Michigan folks: Caroline (who could be my BFF because she also belongs to my creative writing group and is very encouraging) and her nice husband Stephen. They love to dance and it shows. They also belong to our “couples country dance class.” Caroline is such a charmer.

And we also had Shelly and Richard at our table, another Michigan couple. Shelly is fascinating and I already felt I knew Richard because we keep running into him at nearly every event we attend. I spent quite a bit of time exchanging life-stories with Shelly. She and Richard have been married nearly 25 years; just a year less than John and me.

It was a fun, relaxed table of compatible folks. Hope we can get to know them better!!

To finally “feel good” and enjoy the company of friends was grand. It seems we’ve been “out of it” for so long. Actually it’s been less than a month, but it felt longer. Finally we know we’re “over it” and we can again be part of society without feeling contageous.

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Dear God..

Dear God:

For 2011, all I ask for is a big, fat bank account and a slim body.
Please do not mix up the two like you did last year.

Thank you.

PS Why can’t I get a little ahead instead of a bigger behind.

(Note: This isn’t my “original” thought, but I definitely “second” it.)

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Yet another sunset from our condo

A lovely January sunset I photographed tonight.

January Sunset

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Yesterday we got a call from Mauro, our kitchen cabinet contractor. He’ll be installing our new top kitchen cabinets and resurfacing the bottom cabinets tomorrow (Friday). They’ll be a warm chocolate brown with brushed stainless bar-type handles.

Before the new cabinets go up, we wanted to get the old wallpaper off the walls in the kitchen area and paint it the same sand color as the living room and dining room.

There’s also a long wall-papered wall where there won’t be cabinets that will need to be stripped of wallpaper and painted but that can wait.

John started yesterday and I assisted. Today we need to take EVERYTHING out of our upper kitchen cabinets.

I can’t wait to see the finished product. It’s going to be so much nicer! Even without the new cabinets, the removal of the old wallpaper has up-dated the room.

I’ll post before and after photos.

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Sick too long!

I’m still not 100%. It’s been a long, slow recovery but I’m finally feeling better. Not great, but better.

This week I’ve had a major website crisis. My workshop leader registration script wouldn’t run and it was time to send my “invitation” to the leaders. For some reason the website wouldn’t work. I spent dozens of hours trying to trouble-shoot it. I contacted everyone I could think of who might know how to write a perl script. It’s finally working. (I contacted my domain hosting company and they got it running.) Classes are being submitted by leaders and I’m happy.

We were supposed to go to a “sock hop” this evening but neither of us really felt like going anywhere tonight. Hopefully tomorrow we can get out. John’s still coughing a little, but he looks better (except for a cold sore which is bothering him).

Another chilly spell has moved in. It’s not frigid, but certainly not warm and toasty.

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Up in smoke

Generally my postings are light-hearted. This one is serious. Let me start off by saying that my opinion on this topic is influenced by the fact that my father and two of my aunts were heavy smokers who died of emphysema. My mother, a non-smoker, also had emphysema from my father’s “second hand smoke.”

I’m very allergic to smoke. If I’m around even small amounts of cigarette, pipe or cigar smoke, I usually lose my voice (sometimes for long periods after exposure.)


John and I divide our time between two lovely states: Michigan and Florida. We therefore experience the way these states deal with the conflict between smokers and non-smokers. Michigan is more pro-active when it comes to protecting the rights of non-smokers. Florida’s law, sorry to say, misses the mark.

This week, several hospitals in the Tampa area made news by forbidding smoking on their property. In Michigan, hospitals haven’t allowed smoking for at least a dozen years. Michigan hospitals took the lead and said they would set a good example and it’s worked. It’s hard to believe that in Florida, hospitals are doing this “voluntarily” and aren’t required by state law to provide a smoke free environment for those on hospital property.

Although Florida does not allow smoking in public buildings/workplaces, they let folks smoke on terraces, patios, and other similar areas. In Michigan, if a business has even one paid employee (and that includes private clubs), smoking is not allowed even on terraces and other adjacent outdoor properties.

It would be great if Florida would extend their law to cover these out-door places. There are many instances where Florida non-smokers are forced to endure the smoke of others. If Florida’s law matched Michigan’s no-smoking policy which went into effect in 2010, the pool deck would be off-limits for smokers. There’d be absolutely NO SMOKING on patios. You wouldn’t have to avoid “smoke zones” at Busch Gardens.

What difference does it make? you ask. If you’re a smoker you probably feel that you’ve already lost most of your right to smoke. But Florida law still give preference to smokers in many areas.

Smoke knows no boundries. It doesn’t stay within the “smoking” area at the pool deck. Smoke can’t read signs. Frequently the wind carries the smoke from one area to another.

At least at Kings Point, no smoking is permitted inside. But the other day we went to the Moose Club in Ruskin for their Friday fish fry. The food was good but we won’t go back. To order your food or get a drink, you had to stand in “the smoking section.” That room was blue with heavy smoke and the non-smoking area smelled strongly of smoke. In Michigan, our Moose Club was forced to eliminate smoking completely because the Michigan law applies to private clubs, if they have any paid employees. The Ruskin Moose won’t see us again. We’ll find a place that puts a higher value on the rights of non-smokers.

My allergies are often triggered by the blowing smoke at the pool, even though it’s outside. And just who figured out that outdoor food service should be located IN the smoking area?

When smokers ask, “What about our rights?” to be honest, that isn’t my concern. Everyone has a right to expect that they can breathe in smoke-free air. Smokers don’t have the right to polute the environment. Smokers’ rights end when they contaminate the air I breathe in.

In the past, I’ve been forced to give up bowling (because all bowling alleys allowed smokers), I’ve had to move at restaurants because smoke traveled from area to area, I’ve had to leave venues where smokers were contaminating the area. Now, when the rules are supposedly favoring non-smokers, I’m still having to avoid the pool deck area at our favorite pool because smoking is allowed in “smoking” areas and the smoke won’t stay in the areas designated for it.

I just wish Florida would adopt Michigan’s stricter non-smoking policy.


(Today, January 15th, I went to the pool. There was a guy in the smoking section with a cigar. I wanted to get a burger but I had to stand in the smoking section to get my food. Later, I had to endure his smoke even at the other end of the pool. I believe the lack of wind and heavy air contributed to the inversion which trapped his smoke. But why did I have to put up with it? I left.)

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Feeling better

No, I’m not back to “normal” but I feel much better and so does John.

This morning we went to the “resale” shop. (We are looking for an old steam iron so we could use it to strip the wallpaper off our kitchen walls.) We were home before noon.

Our country dance lesson was tonight but we didn’t feel we had enough energy. We also turned down the opportunity to go to the Elks in Ruskin with a big bunch.

But we are getting better and that feels great!

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Lovely view

I’ve taken dozens of photos of the view “from-our-condo” but tonight’s sunset was awesome!

View from our condo

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Still Under the Weather

We’re both still sick with horrid colds. It’s been over a week for John and I’ve had it for about five days. No fun!

With both of us being ill at the same time, it’s difficult because we both need to be babied but we’re too sick to do much for each other.

John really scared me a couple days ago. His color got really gray and he was afraid it had gotten into his lungs. He couldn’t get warm and was shaking with chills. He finally took a really long hot, hot shower but he passed out in the shower. Thank heavens he was sitting on the bench in the shower when he collapsed.

As soon as I opened the shower door and he got fresh air he revived and was on his feet within a few minutes. His color slowly returned to normal and he felt better that evening (at least he’d warmed up).

Friday night went to our New Years Eve party. We were careful to take all the precautions so we wouldn’t pass it on (hand sanitizer and no sneezing or coughing). We lasted until about 10:20. I was asleep long before midnight.

We haven’t eaten any real meals for three or four days. The closest was last night when I opened and heated a can of chicken noodle soup.

Neither of us has been dressed since Friday night, but we’re going to try to get presentable and go out for groceries this afternoon. We don’t have a choice. We’re out of bread, bananas, and kleenex.

So far 2011 has been a disappointment.

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Feeling Yucky

I have a bad cold which I caught from John. He started feeling rotten Sunday, by Tuesday night I had all the symptoms.

We have tickets for a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow. John’s feeling pretty good today, hopefully I’ll show improvement tomorrow.

At least the weather is going to be nice for the next week or so (in the mid-70’s). That’ll help!

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Santa’s and Frosty’s Demise

zombie SantaJohn and I were concerned because every time we passed the heavily decorated sign announcing “Lancaster,” one of the condo associations within Kings Point, the blow-up Santa and Frosty were deflated. They were just heaps of unrecognizable (dead) vinyl. We couldn’t figure why that association didn’t remove the defective/damaged Christmas decorations.

But the other day, we finally learned how how these lawn decorations work. (We’re probably the last to know.) We had been under the impression Santa and Frosty were balloons which were inflated and should stay inflated. Now we understand that the new, higher tech lawn ornaments are kept upright by an air pump which has to be running to keep the characters standing. It all makes sense. The Lancaster lights were on a timer and they were also out.

Although we haven’t seen them “come to life” somehow the mental image is of Christmas zombies.

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Quiet Christmas

We enjoyed a pleasant holiday.

Christmas Eve we’d joined a houseful of friends at Rachael and Jerry’s for a fun (rather rowdy) house party. At 11:00 we went to church for a candlelight service. It was nice to see everyone on the “night before.”

Christmas morning we opened our gifts. (We’d agreed that the new refrigerator and kitchen renovation were our gifts to each other, but we did have a few things under the tree.)

John played a little pickleball. I’m amazed that he’s using his damaged lungs so efficiently. (As a brand new player, he feels badly that he can’t keep up with the best of the players, but he’s more than holding his own with those who are average.)

Dinner was a feast of baked ham, sweet potatoes with brown sugar, American fried potatoes, apple/waldorf salad, corn pudding, home made bread, lots of relishes and two desserts (chocolate mousse and pumpkin pecan pie).

We vegged the rest of the day. Nice and quiet. Life is good.

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Yesterday at Busch Gardens

Fruit Loops TucanWe spent the day at Busch Gardens. The Christmas shows were wonderful. Costumes and talent awesome! The ice show was especially breath-taking. The Russian couple scare me because every year I expect she’ll hit the ice when he holds her ankles and spins her face inches from the ice. This year the little girl was very young but charming!

Of course we enjoyed the animals in the Gardens too.

It was a tad chilly but with no wind and bright sunshine, we were comfortable.

We’re looking forward to the music series at Busch which will start in mid-January.

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Holiday Greetings

Florida Santa

It’s the season of Christmas
And ‘though there’s no snow
The holiday spirit
Has us aglow.

It’s not like up north
Where its sub-zero cold.
We’re here in Florida
A haven for “old.”

And Santa has found
A most handy way
To make gift deliveries
When he has no sleigh.

So in shorts and sandals
And without Rudolph’s nose
He’ll load up his gifts,
As my photo shows,

And with his golf cart
Instead of reindeer,
Christmas will happen,
Even down here.

As Christmas arrives,
And when the year ends,
Our thoughts will be centered
On family and friends.

Love, Sharon & John Skaryd
Photo taken 12/11/2010 – Sun City Center, Florida

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Boot Scootin’

Last night we went to “Country Night” at the South Club.

It seems that for quite a few years, the rest of the world has enjoyed group (line) dances but we’ve never tried. It seemed the longer we postponed learning those dances, the harder it was to jump in. Everyone else learned how to “grape vine” and “stomp” while we were sitting on the side lines.

Our Wednesday lessons are exposing us to country “couples’ dances,” and we’re finding that line dancing is creeping in.

Last night we got out there and tried most of the dances. We had fun! Lots of fun.

So I’m no longer avoiding line dances but I still won’t do the “Chicken Dance” or the “Hokey Pokey.” I find them absurd.

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Cool but lovely!

The weather here in Florida has been dern chilly. Tonight we went to Rockin’ Rendevous (by golf cart). It was a pleasant time.

The Rendezvous is still much quieter with smaller crowds than previous years, but the cool weather and absence of folks who have left for the north to be with family for the holidays explained many of the absences.

At least today wasn’t as bitter cold as it has been the past couple of days. (It actually spent most of the day in the 60’s.)

At Rockin’ Rendezvous, we sat with Don and Jan, who are friends of Brenda and John. They may stop over Christmas afternoon. We’ll open our door to anyone who wants to stop in that day. We can open some wine, and make a few tasty munchies.

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Coats — Here and There

I told John I wanted to go to shopping tomorrow because I needed to buy a warm jacket.

I had every intention to bring a short black winter jacket with us from Michigan. But after I got down here, I had looked for that jacket and I hadn’t been able to find it. I figured I’d left it in the dining room in our up-north home. (I use the dining room as a “staging area” when we are packing.)

Tonight, when I mentioned shopping for a jacket, John said he’d found my black one a week or so ago and had put it in the truck. I checked. It was there! Yeah! I won’t freeze. I now have my warm gloves (which were in the pocket) and a warm jacket. Wish I’d brought the removeable lining but the nylon shell will sure help.

This time I wanted to put the jacket where I could find it, so I decided the best place to store the jacket was the back of the walk-in master closet. When I went to hang it way in the back, I found my long trench coat. (It’s black with a velvet collar.) I must have brought down with me last year. I remember looking for that coat after we’d gone back to Michigan last April or May. I didn’t remember that I’d brought it south. Now I know why I couldn’t find it in our up-north home. It never dawned on me that the trench coat was down here, I was under the mistaken impression that it was in Michigan.

I’m so glad I have them. It’s been cold and I could have used the trench coat Monday night. We were sort of dressed up but it was cold. I have a mink jacket, but that’s only for rare occasions like balls and truly dressy events. Monday wasn’t that dressy, but a casual fleecy jacket would have looked tacky so I didn’t wear any jacket at all and I froze!!

TWO houses make life entirely too confusing. Is it here? Or is it there? At least now I’m all set for jackets/coats.

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Making Music

Last night we attended the Nantucket V Christmas party. It was a very nice evening!

We were the entertainment with our friends, the Conklins. The four of us had practiced several times. We had a nice selection of holiday tunes and a few that were just fun!

Many in our audience had never heard a hammered dulcimer. John and Wayne produced a nice sound with John taking the melody and Wayne making nice harmonies. Linda and I played chords and provided a rhythm on our autoharps to lay foundation.

I was the emcee and “talked” to the audience. I tried to keep it light-hearted and it worked. When you “make a connection” you can feel it, and last night felt good!

We felt they really loved the music and appreciated us. It was FUN!

The positive comments were plentiful.

One friend came up afterward and said, “You guys are so ‘professional’.”

For a first music experience with our neighborhood, we were pleased with the way it turned out.

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Thursday’s at the Clubhouse

It’s funny but since we’ve been coming down her to Florida, Thursday’s have been the most popular night of the week. The South Clubhouse is always packed with dancers, those who enjoyed adult beverages and folks in search of fun. We’ve always loved it!!

But this year it’s been different (although we had no true comparison because we’ve never spent November/December down here).

Previously we would plan to arrive before the starting time of 4:00 p.m. but we had few seating options that “late.” We would dance, partake of adult beverages and have a grand time socializing.

But this year there have been very few in the clubhouse for the Thursday Rockin’ Rendezvous party.

Tonight we got to there about 5:15 and had our choice of seat locations. It’s obvious that the “crowd volume” is still down. By about 6:00 the place was comfortably crowded and it became a fun gathering.

We left about 7:00 when we’d “had our fill” but it was a nice time with lots of friends and great music.

I’m wondering why folks are hesitating to come to the Thursday night’s Rockin Rondezous party. The music couldn’t have been better. John and I danced to a lot of good tunes. We couldn’t have asked for anything we’d have enjoyed more. It was definitely a good time.

I hope those who are hesitating for whatever reason decide to come and join the fun. The Kings Point Clubhouse is a rockin’ place on Thursday nights!!! We notice there’s an absence of lots of folks we’d like to see attend. Too bad. We’re all having fun but it would be even better if they’d join us.

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Creative Writers’ Group

Yesterday I attended my first meeting of the Kings Point Creative Writers’ Group. It was an enjoyable two hours and I’ve penciled in their gatherings for the future. (They meet on the first and third Tuesdays in Sun City Center, and the second and fourth in Kings Point.)

The format is simple. Everyone brings something they’ve written and they read it to the group.

There were ten attending.

There were: fictional stories, poetry, narratives of current situations and other contributions.

When my time came, I read the first part of “Family Matters,” the discovery of my brother Jim. (Note, you can find a link to it immediately to the right under the heading “Menu”.) It was well received. I think, when I attend again, I’ll bring the first part in case someone missed the beginning of the story but for my second presentation, I’ll tell “the rest of the story.”

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Kitchen Renovation

We’re kind of stumbling into a kitchen renovation.

A week or so ago we put up new blown glass, dark brown very contemporary pendant lights over the “breakfast bar.” They looked great but they made everything else look bad.

Then we found a great buffet,

There’s a blank wall in our kitchen, near the dining area. We’d pressed a tacky free-standing bookcase/bar-type unit into service when we moved in, and located it on the blank wall for extra storage. It was ugly, but served us well. We realized was time to do something about the bookcase, so we purchased the buffet. Yes, we know built in cabinets could be built-in to match our kitchen, but this is something we can arrange elsewhere or even take with us if we buy a different condo. With wine storage and ample drawers and cabinets, it fits our lifestyle.

The new unit is dark, chocolate colored wood with brushed stainless knobs. It looks great with the hanging pendant lights, but it sure doesn’t match the existing honey oak kitchen cabinets.

Today our new stainless French-door refrigerator was delivered. The refrigerator, buffet and the lights blend together quite nicely. But the existing wallpaper is too busy. (We’ve always said the paper should be removed.) But it’s the cabinets that now stand out as “totally dated.”

This afternoon we had a guy come to give us a bid for changing the cabinets. For obvious reason, he wants us to go with replacement cabinets. He’d like us to get rid of the buffet, which he said doesn’t do a thing for the area. He may be right, but it’s serviceable and we’re satisfied. We didn’t spend so much that we can’t ever part with it, but for now, we want to just concentrate on the rest of the kitchen.

For the lowest price we can paint the existing kitchen cabinets, or for more we can put new doors and skins on them, or we can replace them completely. We’re getting bids on all options.

We’ll see what this cabinet maker can do and tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have another bidder look at the job.

We don’t want to put too much into this project. We’ll see…..

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Lots going on

Monday we spent the day in Brandon shopping. We ended up buying a stainless French door refrigerator which is going to be great!! No more turning the ice maker on and off and if we forget, ending up with a freezer full of ice. It’s large (29 sq. ft.) with accessible ice and water without opening the door! And a freezer which will be large enough to hold our Thanksgiving turkey.

We are also getting a buffet with a hutch top to go on a blank wall as you go into the kitchen. That’ll give us five additional drawers and three sizeable cabinets plus a wine storage area. We especially need the drawers!

We’ve added new hanging lights over our breakfast bar. They really up-graded that area. With the refrigerator and buffet/hutch, it’ll be much nicer and more appealing. Next step: add granite counter tops, up-grade our kitchen cabinets and hopefully replace our bar stools with some that are more contemporary.

Of course the floors need to be either tiled or we need to lay wood flooring. There doesn’t seem to be any end to our dreams.

Thank heavens!!

Dreaming makes life fun!

Today we rearranged my “office area.” We brought a four-drawer file cabinet in from the garage, which means I can “get organized.” It’s a temporary fix. Eventually we want to make the “office” into one huge pantry/storage area with a sink and cabinets for canned goods against the back wall and a built in desk area to the right side. At least now, the space isn’t totally wasted. I’d also like to find a good sized book shelf to hold my abundant books. Maybe it can go in a corner of our bedroom. I read so much and our community is utopia for buying bargain books.

Let’s see, since getting down here (six weeks ago), we’ve gone to Little Harbor to watch the sunset and enjoy hamburgs three times, two evenings at the Elks Club in Ruskin for spaghetti, an Oldies but Goodies dance, an Acadamy dance, and a Ballroom Dance Club dance, a pizza party, wine party, a fund raiser dinner, a potluck with the Pelican Players (drama club), dinner at Circles (very good and up-scale), and we’ve had dinner at the Conklins twice, pizza here once, pool at least five or six times a week and well…. you get the idea. Busy Busy Busy!! Love it!

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A day late

Yesterday we had decided to make an offer on the lovely condo on Princeton Greens. It offered more space and storage with an unequaled view at a very low asking price.

About noon we called our realtor and she in turn called the listing agent. We were too late. It had been sold. Darn!

But the experience has prompted us to look at our place differently. We do love our view and there are a few things we can do to make our place even nicer for us. We’ll gradually complete some small projects. The large ones will wait for now. Even the small ones will make a difference.

We’ll move the utility tub from the office and move a storage unit into that space. We’ll see about adding a cabinet in the master bathroom. We’ll look into the replacement of our refrigerator and relocate it left of where it is now. We’ll add a pantry where the current refrigerator sits. We’ll see about some extra cabinets to the left of the new refrigerator location. We’ll buy a new furniture grouping for the end of the living area. That should do it for this year.

Yesterday our garbage disposal died so John replaced it and we added two pendant lights in place of two recessed lights over the bar that divides the kitchen from the living area. Those projects totaled less than $200. Little things like that will enhance our place.

I do need to wash the living room windows while it’s cool. (The 85-90 degree temperatures didn’t encourage working outside especially on the sunny side of the condo but this week it should be nice and we have few activities planned.)

We also need to have the living room carpeting commercially cleaned.

We’ll keep our eyes open for a different condo, but there’s no rush. (I really wish we’d moved faster on the Princeton Greens condo!)

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A new condo for us..??? (540 Princeton Greens Court)

540 Princeton Greens
Today John and I took a tour of the above condo which is located in Kings Point (our gated community).

We’ve been hoping to find a place that would make up for our current condo’s short-comings. This may be it.

If we stay here (in our current condo), we’ll eventually need to do some expensive projects to make it work for us.

We’ll need to replace the carpet and vinyl floor coverings with durable tile or wood flooring. We’ll eventually replace the living room windows with some that are more weather resistant, expand the lanai, enlarge the kitchen, and possibly move a wall between the master bathroom and office to expand the master bath by two additional feet (and rearrange the shower, etc.) Roughly we figure the changes we’ll need to make will total $30,000-$50,000. Although once we get a place or decide, we’ll hope to stay put, the value of the condo probably won’t reflect any of the changes.

The condo we looked at today is two years OLDER than ours but it’s considerably larger and has an exceptional view (a view is a requirement for me). There’s a pond directly behind the condo with a conservation district on the other side of the pond. The side yard is wide. It’s on a quiet cul-de-sac.

Most of the floors are 18″ ceramic tile. (Only the bedrooms are carpeted.) There are lots of closets and storage galore. The galley style kitchen is twice the size of ours with a window over the sink. There’s a nice-sized utility room with a utility sink off the kitchen and the utility room has a whole wall that’s a pantry (about 18″ deep).

The master bedroom is much larger than ours and would accommodate a “sitting area” toward the pond. (They have 4 or 5 dressers in a row along one wall in the bedroom.) The bedroom view is awesome. There is a walk-in closet for the lady and a second closet for a guy. The master bath is spacious with a large “Roman shower”. There’s a long two-sink vanity with ample storage. There’s nice sized linen closet in the master bath and a hallway closet in the foyer near the front door. (Yes, it has a foyer!) The guest room is larger than our current one with a closet along one whole wall and a pretty arched window.

Both bathrooms have solar lights.

The living room is about 30 feet long and about 20 feet wide (with two solar lights). They’ve divided it into two distinct furniture groupings: one area for TV and another for conversation, but we’d blend the two.

There’s a nice sized dining area which opens with sliding doors to the lanai. The screened lanai is really pretty. In addition to the dining room siding door the whole width of the living room opens up completely to the outdoor room and the doors slide in such a way that the opening is totally unobstructed. The lanai would also act as a greenhouse for John’s green thumb.

We didn’t come in the front way, but it appears there’s a gracious entry feel.

All the condo’s ceilings are very high with interesting angles and slopes and neat ledges at different heights. (They are currently filled with knick-knacks, but we’d prefer to just see the angles of those shelves bare.)

There are four solar lights (two in the living room and one in each bathroom).

The current dark, musty den, which is being used as a “library” with a whole wall of dark bookshelves, would make a perfect “office”/”music room” and is positioned away from the traffic areas so the required clutter wouldn’t be visible. It would eventually need another solar light but is large enough to serve all those purposes.

Negatives: the current owners are into art work and have dozens upon dozens upon dozens of paintings on all the walls (30-50 hung on just one living room wall). We’d therefore need to patch nail holes and repaint completely. The place is so cluttered that it’s hard to see the “bones” of the place. It has a sort of an old, musty smell (which would be eliminated with a thorough cleaning). The kitchen is dated but serviceable. Older white appliances are ok, but not glamorous. There’s no “breakfast bar” which we love in our current condo so we’d need to eat in the dining room all the time. There’s no dining light fixture, only an ugly fan with a light (a fan over a table?? Naw!) The garage Is too short for our truck and that’s almost a deal breaker for John. There’s no window in the den. It faces east while our current place faces west so we’d lose our lovely sunsets. We would be further from the South Club where we hang out and I wouldn’t do as much walking (too far to the clubhouses and it’s easier to be motivated to walk with a destination).

The things which would need to be done to the place: paint throughout, change cabinet knobs in kitchen and bathrooms, change light fixtures in bathrooms, upgrade fans in living room, dining area and lanai, install a hanging light over the dining room table, change lanai light fixtures, (if possible) add a “breakfast bar.” Eventually re-face or paint the kitchen cabinets. All of those things could be done for a few hundred dollars. Quite a difference from the $30,000-$50,000 we’d need to spend on our current condo.

Both of us can envision the lovely place this could be. It really has a lot of promise.

I should mention that the place we’re interested in has a very motivated seller who must unload the place. (The husband needs to be in an assisted living area and they have made plans to move to Lakeland where doctors can help with his care.) They need to move by the end of December. Therefore, we’re hoping we can make a cash offer and get a quick acceptance. We’d list ours for about $5,000 less than we paid for it two years ago and hope to sell soon. But we could also consider renting it out.

A lot to think about.


It’s now several hours later. We went to the condo again with Trudy our realtor and I thought we were ready to make an offer. Then we measured the garage and the truck and found the garage is too small. The truck doesn’t fit. That was like a “sign.”

John’s now cool to the whole idea. He’s afraid of owning two condos at the same time. The association dues would have to be paid on both units. That’s nearly $400 monthly. With his cold feet and the garage too small to hold our vehicle, we’re giving it second thoughts.

I still love it. John’s less convinced. Actually don’t think John has the energy to move right now anyway. It is difficult and stressful to move and today John wasn’t feeling well enough to consider it. I know he doesn’t feel strong enough. I have to bow to his decision.

This place is nice. I just hate to spend the money we’ll need to spend to make it work for us.

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Little Harbor Revisited

John and I went to Little Harbor for dinner tonight. (Just the two of us.) It was lovely.

Here’s one of the photos I took.

Little Harbor

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Expiration Dates

I thought it would be wise to have items at both our Michigan and our Florida home. But we’re finding that we aren’t using up things fast enough. Stuff “expires.”

For instance we have purchased batteries of different sizes for both locations. Seems that most of the time, the unused batteries die before we use them.

The other day John wanted some baking soda and baking power. They were “dead.”

Even items like suntan lotion sprays get old before we use up our supply.

My shampoo and cream rinse were “thicker” in the bottom of the bottle and hard to get out when we arrived from Michigan (we leave the A/C down here set at 80 over the summer).

Vitamins and even ink cartridges for my computer’s printer have expiration dates.

We freeze lots of food for our return, but much of it ultimately “goes down the disposal.” (John’s grinding up some frozen bacon right now.)

We don’t have a solution for our problem. We can’t haul everything back and forth and with only two of us, we wouldn’t go through items very quickly even if we stayed put. We usually buy large (more economic) sizes to save on cost by the ounce, but it often ends up being wasted.

I opened a “packaged” inkjet cartridge when we got down here, one which I’d purchased last spring and left here. It wouldn’t work. I called Lexmark and they sent me another, but I was informed that the normal warranty is six months from the purchase date. Tough. I am not going to haul that printer back to Michigan just so I can use up my supply of cartridges faster.

Expiration dates are hard on snowbirds.

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Finally some RAIN!!

Today it rained (close to 1/2 inch) from about 10:00-1:00. We were so glad! It’s been nearly a month without any precipitation at all. Although our community has a lot of “irrigation” with huge sprinklers, and although everything is still green, we feared that the trees haven’t been getting enough deep rain to keep them going if we have any stressful situations (like the cold we had last winter).

For the past half dozen years (or more years) I’ve totally ignored my health. First it was my mom’s heath and I was consumed by her needs. Then about 18 months ago John’s health deteriorated and I was busy worrying about him. But recently I realized I need to worry about my own condition.

Last week I went to an internist who scheduled me for blood work, x-rays and insisted that I needed to go to a gynecologist for total gynecological exam. I also needed a mammogram. I have taken care of all but the blood work (which I’ll do asap – I just have to get up early and have the tests done before I eat anything) and I still need an uterine ultrasound next week. So far so good. I don’t want to let it slip again. I want to live a long, productive life.

I love our time down here and I don’t want to miss any of it because I’m not healthy.

So I’ll have all the tests done. I’ll get the final wrap up explanation on November 22nd.

With the rain, we didn’t get to the pool today and the forecast looks like it’ll be considerably cooler. If we have any warm weather, we’ll definitely spend it at poolside.

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A friend of mine pointed me to this Key West (FL) moonshot from October 22nd. The moon has been so bright it looked like a floodlight. I realized I could have “read” by moonlight.


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Anticipating Busch Gardens

The schedule for 2011 for Busch Gardens Real Music Series was released and lots of excellent acts are included in the line-up:

Jan. 19 – 22 – The Terry Myers Orchestra (a Tribute to Benny Goodman) with the Swing Sisters
Jan. 26 – 29 – The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
Feb. 2 – 5 – Debbie Reynolds
Feb. 9 -12 – Paul Revere and the Raiders
Feb. 16 – 19 – The Ventures
Feb. 23 – 26 – Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
March 2 – 5 – The 5th Dimension
March 9 – 12 – The Osmond Brothers
March 16 – 19 – Tony Orlando
March 23 – 26 – Charo

Most of the acts have visited Busch Gardens before, but we’d still go back and see them again. Our special favorites are: the Osmond Brothers and Charo. We haven’t seen either of the orchestras, Debbie Reynolds (although I saw her about 40 years ago in Chicago), the Ventures or Tony Orlando.

It should be a great season.

I took these photos of Charo in April, 2008, when she visited Busch Gardens. According to Wikipedia, official documents in Murcia, Spain (where she was born) and the United States indicate she was born in 1941, but Charo insists she actually was born in 1951. If Wikipedia is right, when we see her in March, she’ll be 70. When these photos were taken she was 67!


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Golf Cart Mishap

Today we picked up our new golf cart. It’s pretty, shiny, and has all the bells and whistles.

Unfortunately, when we were parked in front of the dealer’s store, testing the brake lights, the sales person said, “Hit the pedal.” I was sitting in the passenger seat and he pointed to a pedal, which I hit. Unfortunately it was the accelerator, not the brake!! John had left the key on and it was in forward so it took off and hit another (NEW!!) cart. Our front was metal, the front of the other one was plastic. Ours was fine. But we now have to pay for a new front piece on the other cart!! I feel so stupid!!

John kept saying, “How could you?” and he has been really quiet and I can tell he’s really mad.

I don’t know how much it’ll cost, but the golf cart shop said, “It won’t be much.” I hope not.

I think they feel that it wasn’t totally my fault. From my view, the guy pointed at the wrong pedal. (In fact I questioningly looked at him and got a nod.) And John left the car in forward and not neutral as he’d been told to do. But I took 100% of the blame because I should have known not to hit the accelerator.

So the good feeling we got from the new cart was quickly gone. We didn’t even go to the regular Thursday Rockin’ Rendezvous. We stayed home in a quiet funk. Last night left us tired and not feeling like more beer. John said the loud music would drive him crazy tonight, so we didn’t go anywhere.

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Little Harbor Evening

Last night we invited Linda and Wayne Conklin to go with us to Little Harbor’s Grill to watch a Florida sunset.

Little Harbor is one of our favorite destinations but it’s usually a bit pricey. We’d heard that on Wednesday they are offering a “special” of a $5.95 half-pound angus burger and cheap beer. We arrived at about 5:00 so we got a great outdoor table in the shade. It was perfect! Apparently we weren’t the only ones who had heard about the bargain because by 6:00 the place was packed.

The food was great.

At about 6:30 our friends, Darlene & Gary and Sharon & Al showed up and were trying to find a table. We crowed in four more chairs. It was a nice evening.

At 6:55 the sunset didn’t disappoint.


torches at Little Harbor.
After the sun had gone down but the sky was still colored, Wayne & Linda walked with us down to the water. It was a perfect temperature and a lovely breezy night. The fish were jumping and it smelled like “ocean.” The tiki torches illuminated the shoreline.


Florida has a “feel” and the whole evening definitely had that quality. Wayne and Linda agree that Little Harbor is the perfect place to take folks who want an experience. It’s the sort of place that we want to save as an “occasion,” but it is fun and October with mid-70’s temperatures was a perfect time to take it in.

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Another Photo


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More activities!

Nearly every day we’re at the pool for at least four hours (sometimes six). Weather’s been delightful.

Last night we went to the Pennsylvania Club’s Octoberfest. Nice event. Tonight we’re heading to Ruskin for a spaghetti dinner at the Elks Club. (Mel and Jean loosely organized a few of us to go over for the evening.) Tomorrow night it’s Rockin’ Rendezvous from 4:00-7:00 (we’ll probably go at about 6:00), followed by a Baby Boomer Club wine and cheese party. Then we have a few “days of rest” (unless we decide to go over to the clubhouse Saturday night or Sunday night for football), before we attend a Kings Point Ballroom Dance Club dance next Tuesday. Whew!

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Soaking under the sun

We’ve been at the pool most days since arriving. (I think we missed one day when we had a full schedule.) Friends gather and we float around and exchange stories. It’s fun.

Yesterday we went inside (to the bar area) for the last couple of innings of the Rays game. It was super fun when the Rays won. The crowd went wild and the excitement was contageous.

The Tampa Bay Rays are obviously very popular here. Tampa Bay’s baseball team will come home Tuesday night to play a fifth and decisive game against the Texas Rangers in the first round of the American League playoffs. The winner will go on to play some team or another from New York City for the league championship, and a place in the World Series.

The Rays lost the first two games, but they rebounded to win games 3 and 4 in Texas over the weekend.

Tomorrow night we’ll have a grand and exciting showdown. John and I will miss most of the excitement because we’re going to a Pennsylvania Club Octoberfest dinner dance. But I’ll bet we’ll know what’s happening. There’s a TV set outside the ballroom and I have a feeling that if we’re still at the party and the score is close, the whole party will be gathered around the set.

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Sunshine Kids

Saturday we went to a lovely Fundraiser at the Sun City Center Community Hall. The crowd was large and supportive. It was a benefit for Sunshine Kids, who are children with cancer. One of the youngsters spoke and made a real impact with her explanation of how this charity had helped her.

We’d never heard of this annual event, but we won’t miss it next year. Tickets were $18 per person. The dinner was catered by Carrabba’s and was excellent. (We’ve even tried to find a recipe for the chicken.) Talented locals provided the entertainment. As the evening ended, there were lots of items raffled off. Everyone was given a Sun City Center candy jar or coffee mug. We bought a white golf shirt with embroidered Sun City Cener logo. It was a wonderful bargain.

Our friends, Sharon Baremore and Alan Goodyear, were our guests. Alan won a raffle package.

We ended the evening at our house for a little wine.

Nice evening!

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Blue Skies and Gentle Tans

Since we arrived Monday the skies have been blue without a single cloud. Temperatures have been delightful (low to mid 80’s). It’s been really nice.

Today we looked at seven condos (exterior observations only). None impressed us enough to be given further consideration. The more we look, the more we feel it’s best to stay where we are.

Many of the places we’ve checked need TLC. Flower beds are over-grown and a good power-washing of the exterior would help. Some have small living areas and NONE we’ve checked have a view equal to what we have. The perfect place may show up, but we haven’t found it yet.

Tomorrow evening we’re going out with Alan Goodyear and Sharon Baremore. They are a cute couple we met last year. We’ll attend a benefit for kids with cancer. Dinner will be catered by Carrabba’s. Our original plans were to go with Wayne and Linda Conklin, but Wayne’s nephew died, so they made a quick trip back tle Michigan and they suggested that we give their tickets to someone who would enjoy the evening. Alan and Sharon will be fun.

I need to do a little house cleaning early, we’ll head to the re-sale shop, and check the bulletin boards to see if we can find any wonderful bargains.

Don’t know if we’ll make it to the pool. We’re both getting a gentle tan.

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Tom Petzak

We’ve made lots of special friends here in Florida. One of those was Tom Petzak. He was a 71-year-old, sun-tanned fixture at the pool. He always had a smile and would always take time to talk with you. John and Tom really hit it off. Tom played softball and was as more active than anyone we knew. He had a malignant brain tumor and only live five weeks after diagnosis.

Tom died in July. We didn’t know until today at the pool. Actually, I didn’t find out until John told me as we were driving home.

The pool won’t seem the same.

We’ve commented that the lost of Jay Morris in August 2008, and Bob Taylor in December that same year had a major impact on our Florida experience. Now we’ve also lost Tom. There’s be an empty spot in our lives.

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We’re HERE!

from our condo
We arrived in Sun City Center about noon. After stopping at the post office and Winn Dixie, we got to our place about 12:45. The place is dusty but in good shape.

The bougainvillea, which we feared had died after last winter’s heavy frosts, is in bloom but needs more pruning. It had been about eight feet tall, now it’s half that, but at least it survived.

In 2008, we brought a small six inch poinsettia in a 3″ pot. It had one or two flowers. Last year, when we arrived just before Christmas it was lovely.

When we got down here today, it had doubled in size. Of course, it’s not time for it to flower, but it’s going to be awesome during the holiday season. It stands over four feet tall, and it’s a good three feet across. My pansies had died, and the flower beds where they’d been planted are overgrown with weeds, but I’ll get them to look nice again.

It’ll take a few days to get everything polished up, but I love it here!

So far Mel & Jean and Wayne & Linda have stopped in. Our neighbors have stopped us to welcome us.

We attended the Pelican Players (drama club) potluck but it was small. It’s obvious everyone hasn’t returned yet.

John said he already feels better here. The six months will fly by.

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Nearly There

We’re in Florida with about 180 miles ‘til our exit. It’s 9:00 a.m. and 60 degrees. We’ve spotted a few palm trees but no “love-bugs” yet. Traffic is light, Charlie, our cockatiel is cooing contentedly, and Willow’s anxious to arrive.

The trip has been fairly uneventful. Traffic was bumper to bumper and slow-moving as we went through Atlanta. Maybe a sporting event (??). We never figured it out but things all lanes were clogged. We’d figured that by traveling on the weekend, we’d avoid a lot of the truck traffic, but we were wrong. Yesterday, especially through Tennessee and northern Georgia, truckers were out in force.

But today, on this last lap, we’re moving smoothly along.

We’ve noticed a lot of big rig RVers pulling extra vehicles. Yesterday it seemed every other vehicle on the road was a huge, pricy motor home.

Tonight we’re headed to a Pelican Players’ potluck at the North Clubhouse. We’re hoping to bump into the couple that gave us grapefruit last year. We don’t know their names, but they were complaining about too much fruit and anxious to give it away. We’d like to get on their list of “recipients.”

Our friends, the Conklins, called us yesterday afternoon and asked if we’d like to come to dinner tonight, but I explained that we already have plans. We’ll see them Saturday night when we go to a benefit for children with cancer.

We’ll be there shortly.

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Love Bugs Re-visited

On September 17th, 2007, I wrote about “unlovely love bugs.” Yesterday I was warned that “they’re back!”

Our friends, Wayne and Linda Conklin, who are already in Florida said we should be prepared. They’ve really invaded the south.

Again, for clarification, what are love bugs? I found this technical explanation:

The female is the larger one on the right.

Love BugsThe love bug (also known as lovebug, march fly, honeymoon fly, telephone bug and double-headed bug) (scientific name Plecia nearctica) is a small flying insect common to the southern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. It was first described in 1940 in Galveston, Texas, and was said to be invading Texas and Louisiana. By the end of the 20th century, however, it had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and other parts of Central America.

Just before we get into Florida, we generally see our first love bugs. They don’t bite, sting, stink, or buzz. But they are annoying because there are so many of them. And they are really hard on car finishes. Someone made a comment in something I read that lovebugs truly help the economy because so many people have to have their cars washed after driving through them. If you leave them on your car, they’ll permanently pit the finish. But even if an insecticide could be found to eliminate them, there’d be a lobby defending them, since so many folks earn money off them.

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